Wicca, Witchcraft and Paganism, for the Novice to the Crone

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Most tribal divination systems began with the use of "lots" made of bone, shell, or wood. The tribal system had a finite number of lots; for example, four to twenty-four pieces. Four lots could conceivably give you sixteen combinations, each combination relating to a specific message. Each pattern may have its own sponsoring divinity, future meaning, present advice, and spiritual plan. A second throw would include an additional finite number of messages. The more lots, the more patterns, the more throws, the more extensive the answers. The closest I've seen to this lot system is a Santerian technique called sortilege. The current popular rune system with twentyfour disks, each with its own design (depending on the system you use), began with the lot system.

Although we may think that a system of four lots would be easy to read and take little time to learn, this is not the case, especially when all possible patterns (including double throws) were committed to memory. At the minimum we are talking one full year of intense study, and three years of study for intermediate accomplishment. So if you think that Celts sat around throwing a few bones for a simple answer, you are sadly mistaken.

Through the survival of sortilege and the runic system,1 we see that several steps were taken by the magickal person before the lots were cast, including purification and prayer. The casting of lots was considered a very serious business, and the fun and games appearing in later Victorian practices at Halloween parties pale in comparison to these early divination techniques.

Yes/No Stones

For individuals who are not familiar with any divination technique, the yes/no stones are the easiest to master; however, the most difficult factors in using any divination techniques are not trusting your intuition and trying to second-guess the issue, and asking the proper question (wording your question in a clear and concise manner). In any divination technique, the answer you receive indicates what will most likely happen if you continue on your chosen path. There are no demons, nasty critters, or bad old Satans moving the stones under your nose. Answers are culled from the collective human unconscious and tempered by divinity. Your fate is not fixed, nor is it carved in stone. Although I teach my children and students that there are no stupid questions in the world, stupid questions in divination will bring you stupid answers, and there are many questions that you could answer without a divination tool. For example, if someone sits down with me and asks for a reading, I usually ask them for a specific question. Focus, whether we are talking about divination or studying for an exam, should be your primary concern. If you ask me, "Will I ever lose weight?" that is not a good question. I would then ask you, "Do you want to lose weight? If you want to, then you will; you don't need a divination tool for that answer." The same goes for "Will I ever get married?" Let's face it: statistically, you probably will, therefore that's not a good question either. Your marriage could be so far in the future that the present question truly isn't valid. A very good rule of broomstick is: Read only for

the next six months.

Sometimes you will get the right answer to the question, but not the answer that you need. For example, I cast a simple yes/no lot with the following question: "Did I bring the present situation upon myself?" What I really wanted to know was: Did I directly cause the problem I was currently experiencing-but I didn't say that. The answer to my original question was "Yes." This was a dilemma for me because I could not see how I caused the situation that I thought had nothing to do with me in the first place. Rather than scooping up the lots and dumping them in a drawer, I sat quietly and contemplated the answer to my question. I realized that, indirectly, I had caused the problem-simply by being who I am. This wasn't a bad thing, just the honest answer. When I threw the lots again, rewording the question, I received the answer I needed to help me better understand the situation. I learned that I had not directly caused the situation, but the fact that I exist, and that I had been at a certain place at a certain time, brought the problem to my doorstep. From there, I could ask more questions and determine what would be best for me to do.

The final rule of broomstick when using any divination tool is not to depend on that tool for all your answers in life. A divination tool is just that-a tool, not God.

To make your own lots, choose three items of the same size: three small stones, three small pieces of wood, and so on. Paint one side solid or with a mark or a design. Leave the other side of the object blank. The painted side will mean a positive answer, the blank side will mean a negative answer. Hold the objects in your hands and ask your question in the manner that a yes or no answer would give you the information that you need. This isn't always as easy as it sounds, but once you get used to wording your questions, your answers will be clearer.

Close your eyes and ask Spirit (or whatever you see as divinity) to aid you in this divination. Ask your question, then throw the objects. Use the key below:

Three yes objects =Yes

Three no objects = No

Two yes objects and one no object =A struggle, but the conclusion will be

"Yes:' Throw again to determine the source of the struggle. determined due to decisions that you, or someone else, will make. Throw again to learn more details.  

Some individuals like to meditate first, and burn a candle while casting the yes/no lots. Try not to do your divination while you are rushed, as you won't be able to concentrate properly. Keep a record of your answers.


This informative “Wicca How-To,” plus much more, can be found in:

Halloween -  by Silver Ravenwolf

Just where did the autumn gaiety begin? Let Silver RavenWolf guide you through the cobwebby corners of time to uncover the history behind Halloween. Honor the spirit of this hallowed harvest holiday with:

Halloween magick: Prosperity Pumpkin Spell, Corn Husk Dolly, Solitary Harvest Moon Ritual

Magickal goodies: Candied Love Apples, Witches’ Brew, Sugar Snakes in Graveyard Dust

Halloween myths and superstitions: black cats, scarecrows, pitchforks, witches and ghosts.

Divination: Circle of Ashes and Stones, Magick Mirrors, Apple, Pumpkin Seed, and Water Divination Rituals to Honor the Dead: The Dumb Supper, Samhain Fire, Soul Lights, Spirit Rattles and Spirit Bowls

Halloween Divinations - Casting of Lots

The Casting of Lots - Yes/No Stones

Copyright ©  1999 Silver Ravenwolf